How to use iCloud for backups on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac

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Backing up & restoring iOS devices with iCloud

Apple’s iCloud may be a terrific way to sync data between your iPhone, iPad and computer, but the software also offers an effortless way to back up your devices. Backed-up information includes everything from device settings, like your chosen wallpaper and app organization, to direct purchases from the App Store and text messages.

How to back up to iCloud

Step 1: Navigate to the iCloud storage settings — Tap Settings > Your Apple ID up at the top > iCloud 

Step 2: Toggle on iCloud Backup — At the bottom of the iCloud page you’ll be able to toggle on the iCloud Backup option to allow the software to automatically back up your camera roll, accounts, documents, and settings when your device is plugged in, locked, and connected to Wi-Fi. Alternatively, tap the Back Up Now option to manually back up your device when connected via Wi-Fi.

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How to restore from iCloud

Step 1: Start from the beginning — All recent iOS devices offer a setup assistant that allows you to restore your device from a backup. However, if you’ve already opted out of restoring from iCloud during the initial setup process, you merely need to reset your device to its factory defaults to access the same setup assistant featured on new devices. To do so, tap Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Contents and Settings. Tap Erase iPhone to confirm. If you have an older iPhone, your steps might vary a little, so be sure to check out our comprehensive guide if you’re having trouble.

how to use icloud ios backup reset

Step 2: Restore from backup — Once you’ve begun the initial setup assistant, you’ll be prompted to either setup a new device, restore from iCloud, or restore from iTunes. Select Restore from iCloud Backup, enter the Apple ID corresponding to your iCloud account, and tap whichever option you’d like to use. If you chose iCloud backup, you’ll see the three most recent backups for each of the devices on which you’ve enabled iCloud Backup.

how to use icloud ios restore from backup

Once chosen, the setup assistant will handle the rest. A progress bar will appear beneath indicating how long it will take download and install the iCloud backup, and when finished, your iPhone or iPad will reset and begin downloading the same version of any apps you had previously installed on the device. Enter the appropriate password when prompted and ensure you’re connected via Wi-Fi or your download could take a while.

Deleting iCloud backups

If you haven’t figured it out already, iCloud is a terrific and autonomous way of syncing and storing data from all your connected iOS devices. Unfortunately, the provided 5GB of storage only goes so far when you’re constantly backing up an iPhone, iPad and MacBook using the same iCloud account. Luckily, select backups can always be manually deleted directly on your iOS device to free up storage when they become extremely outdated or in the event you no longer posses the device to which the backup belongs.

Step 1: Navigate to backup —  Tap Settings > Your Apple ID > iCloud > then up at the top, tap Manage Storage.

how to use icloud ios manage storage

Step 2: Delete the backup — Once you’re at your storage management page, select Backups then select the backup you wish to delete and tap the red Delete Backup option at the bottom of the resulting menu. Each backup will show its relative size and the specific date when it was initially uploaded and which device it’s from, so you shouldn’t have much trouble distinguishing between the various backups. However, you’ll typically want to keep the most recent backup.

how to use icloud ios backup delete

Updated 9-19-2017 to bring up to speed for iOS 11 and MacOS High Sierra.

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